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Graphics

electric-recharged-2-02I’ve been in a typographic mood of late – even more than usual. It’s most welcome. Even so, this was a bit of an impromptu jolly; I was playing with a face I cut several years ago now, long before the days of this blog. It was called Electric, and this is shown in orange above. Inspiration came from the frontage of a rusty, run-down electrical shop in Norwich; it bore lettering of a slender form with enormous, authoritative slabs – delightfully retro-futuristic and, as such, most appropriate for a store likely still selling VCRs and 8-track. Them’s the future.

The blue counterparts were made this evening – essentially, I was curious to see what would happen if I were to reverse the thickness of each character, across the entire alphabet. It does look rather more burly, doesn’t it? Some letters were scuppered slightly – particularly Q – but overall it seems a worthy companion.

It’s quite fun using the two in combination.

The simplicity of both faces means you can do virtually anything with them. They can be warped, scaled, squashed, or pulled however you want, and still look pretty stable. Such versatility can come in handy when you have a specific message in mind.

I did also experiment with Illustrator’s ’rounded corners’ feature, which somehow managed to make the lettering even more delightfully retro:

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Ah well, nothing spectacular but just a bit of fun. I’ve been so woefully unproductive this year, I’m going to jump on any burst of inspiration that I can!

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Who needs rationale when it comes to making letters? I certainly don’t! The most fun lettering exercises, as I doubtless say every time (sorry) are the ones where you just run with something and see where it goes – it’s all about that iterative process, as one wonderful man always used to say.

And so, eyeing a coat hanger and seeing that its lines and curves could easily be bent into several letterforms spiralled into a afternoon of work. That’s an achievement in itself at the moment, regardless of the result. Thank you, coat hanger – potential there was! I ended up with a veritable wardrobe full of alternatives:

The process, there. Having sliced those up in Photoshop and Illustrator, they were a bit rough and ready, so I had a go at refining some of the stronger ones. Among my favourites are probably the M, W and E, who came out of the closet looking quite bold and trendy. I did enjoy using the hook for slimmer, twisty forms too, though, as you can probably tell.

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Well, it gave me something to do with my Sunday! I wonder if there are other objects lying around that I can subject to similar experimentation…

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It’s happened. I never expected it to. I have a new favourite wrestler – or rather, I have a favourite new wrestler. What is this? Well, I say ‘new’, but the adorable Jervis Cottonbelly has actually been teaching his opponents some manners for several years. Ever the gentleman, he characteristically trades the strikes and slams for hugs, tickles, and light-hearted trickery. This chap is the epitome of wrestling theatricality.

My first Cottonbelly experience was actually a couple of years back, when he was a guest on a Twitch live-stream I was watching. I wasn’t convinced at the time, but he was memorable, that’s for sure, and curiosity was there. Recently, I read about his mental health issues, and gained real admiration for him using the character to share his own experience whilst also allowing the sunniness of Jervis to brighten the day for others. It certainly worked for me; it’s been a low couple of weeks, but just a few minutes of his motivational speech (and mean ukulele) at least had me creating again. Thanks so much, Jervy!

A fun, lovable character with what seems like a genuinely sweet guy behind it, I wish Gentleman Jervis nothing but success.

Obviously, there was no contest for subject here. I originally went for a vanilla portrait, but ended up turning him into some kind of desktop wallpaper. How very 1990s of me. Hopefully, the fuzzy cocktail of violets, daisies and tie-dye possesses both the pleasantness and razzmatazz that so exudes Mr. Cottonbelly.

Part two of this mini anime adventure – this time, a Twitch panel show, making acquaintance with a curious quartet in the process.

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Firstly, we have Kagetane Hiruko from Black Bullet acting as YouTube ambassador. As one might expect, given the smiley face and sharp attire, he’s a villain – the boss, in fact. He is a soulless mastermind, acting entirely without remorse and getting a twisted kick from ruining the lives of others. Nice guy.

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Amaimon, from Blue Exorcist, who looks like me, apparently. Pff. I’m not nearly so smiley. Saying this, I took some liberties and cheered him up somewhat – I thought this rather cute glance might bring a persuasive pull to the donation field! It would seem that Amaimon is, as the name would suggest, a demonic force to be reckoned with, since he has the title ‘Earth King’ bestowed upon him. He has a warped sense of humour, and doesn’t react kindly to his fun being ruined. His host is, in fact, over a thousand years old. Yes, I’m beginning to see a resemblance now.

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Representing Discord, we have Rentaro, a protagonist of Black Bullet. Juggling high school and a role in Civil Security, Rentaro is a loving boy who endeavours to treat everyone as equals. Rentaro is an intelligent, agile and resilient fighter, such that even the most fearsome hoodlum underestimates him at their own peril. Oh, and he has a gun if all else fails.

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Finally, we have Ken Kaneki, the main protagonist of the Tokyo Ghoul series. Formerly a gifted student living a relatively normal life, things changed dramatically for Ken when his manipulative hellcat of a girlfriend turned him into the one-eyed ghoul you see here, using elaborate surgical magic. Well, we’ve all been there.

Once the drawings were complete, it was simply a case of bundling them into the specified dimensions of Twitch panels (320x320px). I ran with colour coding almost straight away, and tried to design around that. Here are a few developments that didn’t quite meet the grade for Mr Sekioz, along with some others which I felt worked moderately well in isolation, but not so well transferred to stablemates.

These were completed today, hopefully the finals will be live on Sekioz’s Twitch soon.

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It’s been a while since I dipped my toes into the alien anime scene, with Astro Boy now almost two years old, but it’s returned with a vengeance of late, thanks to certain Frenchmen. We begin with these twin terrors. Though disparate in derivation, they are brought together by one powerful affinity. If you thought Sonic the Hedgehog turning yellow was impressive, well, take a look at these chaps.

Firstly, from Naruto, is the titular hero of a series which has appeared in various incarnations since the late nineties. It appears that his particular ability comes courtesy of his ninja father – whilst fighting a monstrous nine-tailed demon fox, Kurama, his father somehow managed to instill the beast into his son’s body so that only he can use it. This was not without consequence; it was in fact a sacrificial act, leaving Naruto orphaned and something of a pariah in the world of Konoha, for they know what lurks within. In a bid to follow his father’s footsteps and gain the respect of his fellows, Naruto strives to become a ninja himself, while also learning to taking control of his inner demon.

I was initially compelled to try a ‘split personality’ angle, but I soon found that rather difficult given the extreme disparity in scale, and besides, people have done similar elsewhere, and much better than I could. With that, I moved to a simpler concept of our hero standing as guardian before his beastly companion.

The murky orange overlay seemed to add to it, and that progression lead to the final, with some texture thrown in, just because, really.

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I thought I would carry this over for Gnar, our next subject. Part of the League of Legends series, he is a prehistoric creature whose cute, delicate exterior masks a very different reality. Quite the temper, fury and rage is at the heart of Gnar’s combat – he thrives on it. One most definitely shouldn’t wish to incur his wrath, for Mega Gnar is ever waiting to be unleashed, turning this curious little critter into a gargantuan monster until the blaze dissipates.

Following on from Naruto, once the characters were drawn it was a case of trying out some different effects based on the colours of creature and beast:

And experimenting with custom typography, though I ultimately decided against that. It’s a relief to have them done and dusted now, since they’ve been in the works for a while, coming to life almost immediately after the Twenty-Six Spins challenge (I promise to stop linking to that now). I’ve been slapping effects on here, there and everywhere for a while, and not to a tremendous benefit.

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There we have it – for now, anyway. I know who Naruto and Gnar are, now. There may be more of this ilk to come.

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Of course A would be chosen for the final letter! Coupled with the return of Geometric, more messing with shapes beckoned. Wanting to mark the finale in some way, I started off thinking about something suitably jubilant – a geometric firework display, perhaps, or game show glitter…

…but that rather quickly fell by the wayside, as it didn’t come together quick enough. Maybe an upward triangle with sunny colours could be seen as positive enough in its own right? Yes, let’s go with that.

Blending the above developments somehow resulted in this fierce eye creation. A for angry, I suppose! Perhaps he’s miffed that the series is coming to an end? Anyway, it’s something quite peculiar, and it’s geometric. That’s good enough for me.

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That’s it, then: twenty-six letters and more than 420 developments (!!) later, here we are with our rather repetitive alphabet. Generally, I think the wheel behaved itself. Some themes evaded the flipper, though; I would have liked Gothic and Speccy to come up. I’m alarmed to discover that my name is apparently no longer valid. We’ve skipped, among others, an E, an N, and the beloved W. I didn’t get the D either, but that’s nothing new.

Of course, that’s the very nature of the wheel. Chance. If I’m to do this again, I may only choose the theme at random; at least then there would actually be twenty-six spins! We shall see. But, whether you have a super-exciting wheel to spin or not, I cannot endorse the random element enough; it not only enabled me to create by eliminating the awkward dithering stage altogether, but often demanded fresh approaches or a reconsideration of old ones. Results vary, naturally, buy today’s concluding letterform is a prime example of an aesthetic which probably wouldn’t have happened outside of the series. Prospects abound with challenges like this. Give it a whirl and see how you fare.

Until next time, it’s been fun. Here are the fruits of the last few weeks’ labour:

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We’ve somehow made it to the penultimate spin – last one tomorrow! If you’re as excited as I am, then I can only apologise; it’s nearly over. I am still holding out for that W, though.

I’m pleased that Q turned up though, I was beginning to think it might prove elusive. It’s everyone’s favourite letter, right? And it actually merged quite well with Square – at least once I got my head together  I feel like I’m saying that every day.

There was a subtle evolution here, from the very basic and uninteresting to pretty basic and vaguely interesting. Blending two letterforms in Illustrator and the exploration of negative space pushed the final form, which has a pleasantly modern (box) look. The outcome was stronger than the early developments suggested.

At the risk of jinxing it, let’s hope we don’t end on a damp squib tomorrow. That would be wheely frustrating.